NEW YORK TIMES: CASEY AFFLECK wants to come clean. His new movie, “I’m Still Here,” was performance. Almost every bit of it. Including Joaquin Phoenix’s disturbing appearance on David Letterman’s late-night show in 2009, Mr. Affleck said in a candid interview at a cafe here on Thursday morning. “It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” Mr. Affleck said. He was speaking of Mr. Phoenix’s two-year portrayal of himself — on screen and off — as a bearded, drug-addled aspiring rap star, who, as Mr. Affleck tells it, put his professional life on the line to star in a bit of “gonzo filmmaking” modeled on the reality-bending journalism of Hunter S. Thompson. “I’m Still Here” was released last week by Magnolia Pictures to scathing reviews by a number of critics, including Roger Ebert, who wrote that the film was “a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin.” “The reviews were so angry,” said Mr. Affleck, who attributed much of the hostility to his own long silence about a film that left more than a few viewers wondering what was real — The drugs? The hookers? The childhood home-movie sequences in the beginning? — and what was not. Virtually none of it was real. MORE
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ALSO: “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen is set to play flamboyant rocker Freddie Mercury in a dramatic feature focusing on his glory days as the frontman of Queen, its producers said on Thursday. The untitled film is being written by Peter Morgan, the British scribe behind “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland.” No director is attached yet. Shooting will begin next year, said producer Graham King, whose GK Films is partnering on the project with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions, and Queen manager Jim Beach. The project has the cooperation of Mercury’s estate and the three surviving members of Queen, a spokeswoman for GK Films said. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor will oversee the musical content of the film, which will feature both original Queen music and Mercury solo music. (Bassist John Deacon has retired from the music industry.) The film will focus on a period of a few years leading up to what was arguably Queen’s greatest moment: its performance at the Live Aid charity concert in 1985, when the band mesmerized London’s Wembley Stadium and a worldwide TV audience with such hits as “We Will Rock You” and “Radio Ga Ga.” The band continued touring and recording even as Mercury’s health deteriorated. A day after finally admitting he had AIDS, Mercury succumbed to the disease in 1991, at age 45. MORE